“This city has many squares with continuous markets. It has one square twice as big as the city of Salamanca, surrounded by galleries that receive over sixty thousand buying and selling people per day…” (Hernán Cortés, 1521)
Markets are spaces not only for buying and selling daily supplies, they are a synthesis of the culture, the history of a region and of the commercial relations with its neighbors. These places have historically housed all kinds of products, habits, traditions, artistic expressions, knowledge and world visions.
Vernacular constructions in Northeastern Mexico have a naturally defensive character and resource economy. The need of protection against hot climate and the lack of humidity derived in solid archetypes of massive proportions. The use of inner patios, local materials, crossed ventilation, orientation and façade density to protect from direct sunlight are some of its principal characteristics.
Late in March 2019, the Faculty of Architecture of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), summoned a group of academics with architectural practice to take part in a competition to make replicable projects for a number of public facilities for SEDATU (Secretary for Urban and Territorial Development). They were located in places of high vulnerability, this year particularly in North-border cities. The time given to make the projects was three months for executive design and three months for construction. With limited budget, this market was built from December 2019 through March 2020, to be opened in April 4th if COVID-19 emergency had not happened.
For this reason, we considered three fundamental design strategies: First, constructive criteria, we reduced civil construction to 50% and left the remaining 50% for lightweight prefab techniques. Second, material adaptability, in order for the proposal to be adaptable to different locations across the country. Third, spatial versatility, in accordance with its flexible spirit. The ambulatory nature of markets, population variation because of migration and the lack of infrastructure resources at border cities, provided the setting to imagine a mixed-use public space, with green recreational areas. Rather than designing a particular type of building, we thought essential to offer a flexible system for the community, capable of strengthening social bonds and a sense of belonging, evoking the spirit of the original Pre-Hispanic “Parián” markets that achieved a Square-Market perfect balance.
The architectural structure is located at a residual plot of a residential area in the outskirts of Matamoros city. The building sets back from the street in order to make room for public squares and future gardens. The first component, the wall, remind of the solid and hermetic vernacular structures. Its openings generate a three directional corridor system, connecting with neighboring sport and recreational venues. This perimetral structure house forty commercial stands and the service area, serving as a backrest to protect the stands from the hottest orientations.
This brick skin is reinforced by transversal walls that separate stands and generate doorways into the main hall of the project. The central space is a hypostyle gallery made of prefabricated lightweight umbrellas, structured with a system of triangular-trapezoidal metallic modules, clearing distances of up to nine meters and supported by five inches thick posts, capable of resisting hurricanes or flooding. The roof slope is calculated to reduce load-bearing and allow proper runoff for water and snow. The constructive system of the roof consists of a lower 2cm thick layer of brick that provides thermal insulation and an upper galvanized sheet ideal for rainwater harvesting and heat reflection. Linear domes in between structural modules facilitate warm air escape as well as proper natural lighting during the day. Another set of forty 3 by 3 meters ¨informal¨ stands, lie under this structural system that gives spatial flexibility for the community.
Finally, at the heart of the market there is the Oasis. A garden made of local dry weather vegetation, irrigated with the harvested rainwater. A flexible patio that in time will grow thicker vegetation to enhance natural shading, thermal control and provide a new silent space within the city.
LOGIC (7), ECONOMY (3), EFFICIENCY (3), through a COSMIC (C) vision (Eladio Dieste).